I have a sneaking suspicion that we’re frequently told to exfoliate much more than we actually should. Just thinking about exfoliating daily, or even every other day, makes my sensitive skin want to come right off my face, regardless of how “gentle” the scrub purports to be.
Even if your skin is oily or acne-prone, it still needs moisture to survive, so while scrubby, moisture-stripping exfoliators may make your face feel so fresh and so clean, it’ll bite you in the ass in the long run. It’s happened to me. But Ole Henriksen Truth Sugar Glow Polishing Mask ($42) has benefits beyond just scrubbing your skin into submission: It also contains a handful of nourishing ingredients that don’t leave you feeling like you just got power-washed.
The exfoliating part happens in two ways. First, you apply a thin layer of the mask onto your skin and let it sit for five to ten minutes. In this time, a few things happen: The chemical exfoliants like pumpkin extract and pomegranate juice eat up dead, dull skin cells, while soothing honey, hydrating shea butter, and olive oil sink into your skin. Once you add warm water (I like to hop in the shower at this point, but that’s just me), you massage the scrub in gentle circular motions over your face to get the benefits of sugar and pomegranate seeds, which leave skin soft and smooth in the way only a good scrub can. You get all the magic of exfoliating without roughing up your skin.
I avoid most exfoliators like the plague, but I’ve used this one about twice a week over the past month, and I actually find it to be incredibly well-suited to fragile skin. It doesn’t make me red-faced, break me out, or exacerbate dry patches. It does just about everything I want an exfoliator to do, and I like the fact that it’s a mask, too—you feel like you’re really getting the most out of the product, since you give it a chance to work rather than just scrubbing it on and washing it off. It also smells so good I’m almost tempted to eat it, though I imagine this is not the best use for this product.